That’s where I am headed to this next week.

Las Vegas for ILTCON, the International Legal Technology Association annual conference, from Monday late afternoon to midday Wednesday.

Disliking Las Vegas, and having been to two conferences there already this year, I was ready to pass on ILTA.

But over the last couple weeks I’ve had any number of friends, companies, PR professionals and bloggers ask if I was coming and to get together if I was.

ILTACON is one of the places legal technology folks gather each year, so with an industry based on relationships, it’s best I go.

I’ll do some Facebook Live’s with some of the people and companies I find most interesting. A lot of the tech at ILTACON doesn’t draw my interest as I don’t understand it, it’s older, it’s coming from larger companies or is only used in situations I don’t come across.

I find the entrepreneurs and their stories of believing they have something, self funding, riding the emotional roller coaster and now feeling they’re pulling it off to be the fun interviews. People and their personal stories can be as interesting as their technology.

With LexBlog growing from an agency to a software company and publisher, a few folks have reached out to meet to find out if we could work together. Whether to license our managed platform for publishing or to gain additional visibility and build their name through our growing publisher’s network.

I’ll be in Tulsa Wednesday evening and Thursday to keynote at “Professionalism Day” at the University of Tulsa College of Law.

Professionalism Day is a cool program that I understand a number of law schools put on to prepare students for the practice and business of law.

Rachel Baker, The Associate Director of Professional Development, has been following my blog and the message I’ve been delivering to law students and law schools.

The law school thought it would be great if I could come back and inspire the students as well as share some practical “how to’s.”

Not only will it be an honor to speak to the law students at Tulsa U, it will be a lot of fun. Little is more rewarding than “reaching” a law student or two as to the opportunities that await them and share how they can realize their dreams with the technology of today.

On Friday I am headed down to Norman to visit with folks at the University of Oklahoma Law School.

I was blown away by a presentation at AALL (American Association of Law Librarians) on what OU Law is doing in legal tech for their students.

We’ve since talked about OU Law beginning to use the LexBlog platform and Law School Blog Network for their students and professors. Getting to together face to face to talk more and see first hand what they’re doing will be fun.

If you’re looking for text or call, 206-321-3627.

This morning, Team LexBlog (everyone) begins its move to the WeWork – Holyoke Building here in downtown Seattle. We’ll move, in stages, over the next month from our current offices a few blocks away.

While many may view WeWork as co-working space for startups and companies with a distributed workforce, I see WeWork as something much different.

Like software as a service, WeWork offers space as a service. Health insurance, legal services and a slew of discounted services from international providers are included in a growing list of benefits.

Rather than worry about phones, Internet, copiers, conference rooms, huge display monitors, event centers, receptionists and more, WeWork has it all. Plus free coffee, cold brew and beer — all I found pretty important to the team when we viewed WeWork as a group a couple weeks ago.

Perhaps the greatest value in WeWork is the networking. Networking for team member learning. Networking for product development. Networking for hiring. And who knows, perhaps networking for business development.

The Holyoke Building, one of four (soon to be five) Seattle WeWork locations is impressive. WeWork occupies all six floors of the building first constructed after the Seattle fire in 1889. It has historic charm galore – exposed brick and stone walls, high ceilings, and tall rounded windows – with polished contemporary Northwest interiors.

The separate offices, of which we’ll occupy four or five, hold two to ten people, all include modern furnishings. There are also plenty of common areas to work from including areas akin to a small coffee shop on each floor. Downstairs there’s a huge area to hangout or hold events — it’s akin to what you’d find in an historic four or five star hotel.

WeWork isn’t just for startups. Alaska Airlines, Airbnb, Lululemon and Perkins Coie were just a few of the establish companies we ran across in touring WeWork. It’s also not just for distributed workforces (people working remote), as LexBlog and other companies have their entire company located in WeWork offices.

No question we’ll use some of the other WeWork locations – 203 office locations in 50 cities around the world. I am already looking at Chicago for an event next month.

Stay tuned, this is all an experiment and we could be back in traditional offices such as the one for which we were about to sign a lease.

Want to have some fun, put your passion for social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogging and more) to work, learn a heck of a lot and become a rockstar in your own right?

I am looking for a paid intern to work full time this summer and part-time during the school year. Who knows, maybe you become a full-time team member later on, as many interns have at LexBlog.

You could be law student, journalism student or any student with outstanding communication skills. What you will be is passionate, hungry and driven to succeed and to make a difference. You’ll bring ideas we’ve not tried before and a desire to do all things different.

You’ll be working closely with me to do, among other things:

  • Shine a light on the good work being done by blogging lawyers across our LexBlog blog network
  • Highlight innovation and technology across the legal profession
  • Highlight access to legal services and access to justice causes
  • Engage and nurture relationships with bloggers, law firms, bar associations, professional associations, reporters and other influential legal industry leaders
  • Work in an around my blog and others, as well as do some blogging of your own

Ideally, I’d like a student in Seattle. Your passion and enthusiasm would be contagious in our office, you’d get to get to know some fine team members of mine and you’d learn what working, innovating and playing in a small entrepreneurial company is all about.

But who knows? Maybe you come to Seattle for part of this summer and work from your school’s home during the school year.

Drop me an email. I look forward to talking.

PS – Maybe you’re a recent grad looking to learn, get some experience and to make yourself so indesensable we hire you.

Fastcase’s legal research solution is now integrated into LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform.

Publishers on LexBlog’s platform are now able to cite a case, code or regulation and have their citation linked to the source. Clicking on the link will then display, within the same browser interface, the case, code or regulation from Fastcase’s data base.

Here’s a visual of how a blog publisher may use Fastcase citations on LexBlog’s platform.

fastcase-search

Law bloggers have had a hard time citing cases, codes and statutes. Bloggers regularly cite primary law, but what do they link to? Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters LexisNexis keep primary law behind a paywall, making people subscribe to their service to gain access to the law.

A law blogger subscribing to such services has access to the law, but their readers may not. Even those readers who do subscribe to the law will not be able to access the law linked to by the blogger as the blogger may be using a different subscription service.

Many law bloggers uploaded a pdf of the law and linked to that. Others didn’t cite or link, if they did. Both a little clumsy.

That problem is now over for bloggers on LexBlog’s platform.

Equally important was the need to integrate secondary authority with primary law – cases, codes and statutes. More and more, secondary authority is being published online and open. Such is the case with the thousands of law blogs being published by practicing lawyers, law professors, law clerks and law students.

To limit secondary authority to published journals, law reviews and treatises (usually behind paywalls) is the height of folly today.

A law professor, law student or practicing lawyer is as apt to publish legal commentary on a blog or other online publication as they are to publish to traditional publications. More so in the case of practicing lawyers.

Courts have recognized law blogs and open online publications as secondary authority by accepting blog citations in briefs and citing blogs in their decisions. Courts will now be able to seamlessly examine the authority cited by a law blogger.

Somone doing online research pulling up an open publication or blog will be able to readily review the authority cited by the blogger. Courts and lawyers citing such publications and blogs will know that the source will carry links to primary law.

The second part of the Fastcase-LexBlog integration will incorporate LexBlog Network blog posts in Fastcase’s libraries. When a law blogger cites primary law, the blog will annotate the case, code or statute. Those doing research will have immediate access to the insight of other legal professionals.

Fastcase, through a partnership with HeinOnline, already annotates primary law with an extensive collection of law reviews. Law blogs curated by LexBlog will be a natural fit.

Expect to see this next phase of the integration within a few months.

Ed Walters (@EJWalters), the CEO of Fastcase, and I have talked about this integration for years. Ed is a big proponent of open law and law blogs serving as secondary authority.

As way of background, Fastcase is a leading legal publisher focused on smarter legal software that democratizes the law.

Founded in 1999 by Ed and Phil Rosenthal, Fastcase is one of the fastest-growing legal tech companies, with more than 800,000 subscribers from around the world and is licensed by the majority of state bar associations for their members.

I turned 60 years old last Sunday. There, I said it.

I told my good friend, Bob Ambrogi, that unlike other birthdays, number 60 really hit me. He told me it was the same for him. Bob also told me he had his best year ever just the year before.

It’s not that I can’t do what I did before (except stay out until 2 AM drinking beer), it just registered that I have less time to change the world for the better. It’s a what if I can’t get it done type of thing.

When it comes to running businesses, Walter Frick (@wfrick) asked in Harvard Business Review today if older CEO’s should be asked to retire.

More than a third of S&P 500 firms have a mandatory retirement policy for their CEO. Their aim is to drive out executives who are past their prime. But are such policies a good idea?

Frick cites a study that firms with firms with older CEO’s tend to perform worse than those with younger ones. He concedes that younger CEOs are attracted to faster growing companies. Most 65 year olds are uncomfortable in hoodies.

Older CEOs also trend to be less innovative, per another study cited by Frick. It turns out, per Frick, that this is because they tend to hire older higher research talent.

Much of my research is coming from a 28 year old CTO and a 29 year old product manager. I told Frick on Twitter that CEO’s who hire younger innovative leaders like these guys have no problem in staying the course.

My personal research comes from Twitter, Facebook and the religious use of a RSS reader to stay abreast of the latest developments and to network with innovative people I’d never have met otherwise.

Even studies that found a mandatory retirement age helpful conceded that executive experience is important for a company’s financial success. Many a board of directors have found the same per Frick.

Robert De Niro, playing the role of a retired executive now interning for a young CEO in a thriving startup in The Intern, said “Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there is no more music in them.”

I still have some music in me, and I suspect many 60+ year olds feel the same.

I found great inspiration in what Jack Nicklaus, now 76, told Paul Gittings (@paulgittings), writing for CNN, a few weeks ago about working harder than he ever has and still enjoying it.

Most people work all their life to retire to play golf — I played golf all my life to retire to work.

It’s not about money for me, I think I passed most of my part of the company off to the kids years ago. I don’t mind dying penniless right now — but just not right now.

I’ll probably die with my boots on.

Sure, publicly traded companies will make statistic driven decisions void of emotion. But those decisions can be short sighted and don’t apply to 60 year olds with heart, drive and a dream.

​As Frick said, in October 2000, Jack Welch did his biggest deal in his 20 years as head of GE, a $45 billion merger with Honeywell. Shortly afterwards the company forced him to retire because of GE’s mandatory retirement policy for CEOs turning 65. Wouldn’t most businesses take a Jack Welch?

I’m no Jack Welch, but like Nicklaus and many others, I’ll probably die with my boots on.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Chris Lewis

LexBlog needs to up our game in 2016. Rather than merely selling and supporting a technology solution for publishing, we need to champion the role of legal blogging in our society. Just seems there is too much at stake for lawyers and the people we serve not to.

LexBlog was started twelve years ago to fill a void — that being to provide a tasteful and eloquent solution to support blogging lawyers. Blogging, then, as now, could theoretically be done at little or no expense but lawyers wanting to look good and to build a reputation would pay for technology and support.

I always presumed lawyers would do good through blogging. They’d freely offer information, insight and commentary on niches that were not being covered. They’d build their network for learning and advance the law — we’d have better lawyers through blogging. Lawyers would have a better name.

Consumers of legal services, whether an executive, in-house counsel, consumer or small business person would be better equipped to pick legal counsel in an informed fashion. After all, reading a blog where a lawyer put their knowledge, experience, passion and care on display enabled one to size a lawyer up more than a directory listing could.

I knew SEO and web traffic were advantages of blogging, but blogging offered lawyers so much more. Blogging democratized publishing for lawyers. It enabled the average lawyer to reach new heights and go places they’d never have dreamed of.

Blogging was like writing a book or two on a niche. Niche blogs became must haves for people with relevant interests. Blogs enabled lawyers to network and meet with people they’d never have before. Speaking engagements and being quoted in other blogs and in the mainstream media became routine.

Blogging as a lawyer was like becoming part of a literary guild, a journalist, a reporter, a publisher and community leader. All of which put blogging lawyers in a position of authority and influence. This authority and the growing relationships got lawyers hired by consumers, corporations and small business people.

A decade or so later we have companies selling content to lawyers so they can have a blog without blogging. Major law firms are identifying popular keywords their lawyers should use more liberally in blogs to draw traffic through a sales a funnel on consumer products web software they have bought for business development. Metrics of pageviews and subscribers versus measuring the value offered and the reputation grown have become the norm in legal blogging.

Take a look at what Jeff Jarvis had to say as to journalists on this point as reported by the Guardian in a piece I came across a couple nights ago. Imagine how much better lawyers and the people we serve would be if we all focused on service to others in our blogging versus attention and traffic.

  • News organizations need to rethink journalism away from being a content service and more toward the idea of being a service.
  • News outlets should “know people as individuals, not as a mass” and tailor the news and experiences they offer accordingly.
  • Perhaps defining ourselves as content creators is a trap. That workflow convinces us that our value is embodied entirely in what we make rather than in the good value people derive from it.
  • An over-reliance on traditional metrics, such as pageviews, as a measure of success will lead to nothing but cats, and crap.
  • We have to decide what we really are. Because if we keep on going with volume, with the old media metrics, the mass media metrics of reach and frequency, transpired to our world in terms of pageviews and unique users, then we’ll be commodified as a business.
  • It is also important for news outlets to acknowledge they are “not alone.” It makes sense for outlets to work together through collaboration and curation, “sharing content and audiences” which could improve the scope of coverage and public service for everyone.
  • In an increasingly crowded news space, all outlets have to find their niche. No one can do everything, and you have to figure out what you do. Cover what you do best and link to the rest.
  • If you’re not the best at what you do – if you’re the 20th best or the 30th best – don’t bother doing it. And we have too much of that going on in this industry. We are a very inefficient industry.

Despite some great blogging on our network, LexBlog has been guilty of facilitating less than quality blogging more than once over the years. Rather than teaching and supporting best practices in ways that reach lawyers, we’ll enable copy which accomplishes little for lawyers and offers their audience little, if anything, of value.

So rather than foster less than quality blogging at times, in 2016 we’ll do the best we can to service good legal bloggers and shine a light on them along the way.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Patrick Nouhailler.

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On behalf of our team to the entire legal blogging community, have a safe and merry holiday season!

Pictured (from left to right) back row: Scott Fennell, Kevin O’Keefe, John McCallum, Christopher Rachal, Jared Sulzdorf, Joshua Lynch, Mark Clagett, Garry Vander Voort, Wendy Nickolay, Audrea Fink

Pictured (from left to right) front row: Colin O’Keefe, Margaret Kuo, Zosha Millman, Kristina Corbitt, Angelo Carosio, Brian Biddle, Catherine Sherwood

Not pictured: Chloe Nichols, Ying-Ju Chen

 

LexBlog Members please note: we do have some special hours and holiday office closures over the next two weeks, but Reach support and technical support for site outages will continue to be available 24/7.

I recently wrote about social selling from the the standpoint of Jen McLure, the Vice President of Digital and Social Media at Thomson Reuters.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, McLure saw it as a no brainer for accounts and sales people at Thomson Reuters to be using social to build reputations as trusted resources and to grow personal relationships through social networks. After all, people buy in large part from the people they like, trust and view as authorities.

I’m proud of what we’re doing at LexBlog. With the work we’re completing on a new digital publishing solution for professional services people and organizations, we’ll have the best offering in the industry.

But LexBlog and I can’t sit back and wait for folks to come to us to learn about what we’re doing and offering, we need to get out at press the flesh, so to speak. I need to talk to both existing clients and other law firms who I think could benefit from our technology.

It’s not that difficult to find law firms who could benefit from our offering. I can go to their websites look for blogs, publications, alerts, informational sites and email newsletters. In most cases, the firm could do better on multiple fronts – cost, presentation, format, technology and reach.

Armed with this information there are multiple ways to approach a law firm. Cold call them. Drop them an email cold. Ask someone for an introduction. And what have you.

I’ve done the “You don’t know me from Adam, but here’s who I am, what I do and while in town I’d really like to meet.” It’s actually worked in the case of incredibly large law firms who became LexBlog clients. It may have helped that someone in their firm knew me from my blog.

But with everyone now cold selling via email and phone that may not be the best approach.

So my team and I am are going to take a page out of McLure’s playbook and start social selling.

We’ll start by identifying law firms which we think we can help. Rather than immediately reaching out to them, we’re going to learn a little about them and their people. Not by just reading their website and what not, but really trying to get to know the firm and the people we’d like to meet.

What’s it mean for me personally?

  • Following relevant law firm blogs and third publications their people contribute too
  • Following relevant firm names through Google News/Feedly
  • Following and engaging the firm and relevant professionals through Twitter
  • Befriending people on Facebook as appropriate (I have a really nice network of professionals as Facebook friends which often results in worthwhile discussions)
  • Connecting on LinkedIn, again as appropriate and with personal notes
  • Re-energizing my LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group which already has about 8,000 members who have shared information and discussed social media, blogging and social networking matters as they relate to law firms
  • Inviting folks to join our LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group

There’s probably more that could be done, but that’s more than enough. It’s also being done in grass roots fashion. There’s no way to automate getting to know people in a real and authentic fashion.

Don’t get me wrong either about the need to personally meet with people. Despite my networking online via my blog and social media, I am a huge believer that there’s no substitute for spending time with people. The Internet enables us to get to know people better and, for me, build relationships of trust, but if I expect to work with people for the long haul I better be meeting with them.

I shared my thoughts with you for a few reasons.

One, hopefully this gives you a roadmap of how you as a lawyer or other professional can use social selling. Two, I am going to be more transparent about the goings- on at LexBlog – much like I did via this blog when I was first building the company. And three, sharing my goals will make me a little more accountable.

I’ll let you know along the way how things are going. I’d welcome your thoughts on any social selling you’re trying to do as well.

Jen McClure (@jen_mcclure), the Vice President of Digital and Social Media at Thomson Reuters was a recent guest of Carrie Kerpen (@carriekerpen) on her podcast, All the Social Ladies. Kerpen summarized their discussion  in a piece at Forbes.

McClure, who has a wealth of experience in publishing, PR, marketing and sales makes clear the number one way to measure return on social media is sales.

How could it be anything else? An increase in sales is the best way to communicate the ROI (return on investment) of social media, which is something the industry has always struggled to quantify.

Thomson Reuters doesn’t screw around as to use of social media by its sales and accounts people or the KPI’s used to measure their success.

Thomson Reuters has deployed a “social selling” program, where its sales members undergo intensive training and receive certification to become social media sellers. This shrinks the bridge between the company and the consumer, and helps the sales staff engage with the community. The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) it measures through social media selling include answers to the following questions: “Do you have a better understanding of our customers and our prospects and their business needs as a result of interacting with them across social networks? Are you getting into that sales cycle conversation earlier? Are you increasing your thought leadership and your influence position and really transforming yourself from being the rep. to a valued resource that can help?”

The results so far?

Sales members love social media selling because it’s fun, easy, and empowering, and because it helps them build their social networks. They are able to engage customers over new channels, ones where customers are starting, and sometimes ending, their buying journeys. It makes the staff feel better about its work.

From McClure:

When we survey our sales people and ask, ‘To what extent do you feel like you have increased your thought leadership, your influence, your understanding of the customers,’ it’s in the 85- to 95-percent range…

Could your law firm’s lawyers be social selling? Of course they could.

  • They could use all social media (blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to gain a better understanding, personally and professionally, of their clients and prospective clients.
  • They could gain a better understanding of their business needs specifically and as to specific industries in general.
  • They could leverage this increased knowledge into sales meetings discussions with clients and prospective clients with whom they now have better relationships as a result of social media.
  • They could be increasing their thought leadership and influence position by blogging on a real publication independent of the firm’s website. Authorship and speaking have been at the heart of establishing oneself as a “lawyers’ lawyer” since the beginning of time.
  • They could be transforming themselves from just a lawyer to a “go to” lawyer who is viewed as reliable and trusted authority on a niche area of the law or niche business. A lawyer is looked as a resource for information and counsel.

Law firms are not alone. LexBlog is right with you in the need to be social selling. We need to be getting to know, personally and professionally, the people we serve. The only limits should be good taste and how appropriate a particular client or prospective client feels about the use of a particular social media in our getting to know them.

We, as a team, have to develop a comfort with the social media being used by those we serve. Facebook, which of course people view differently, is a perfect medium to engage our audience, professionally and personally.

Facebook is where people get to know what’s really important in others’ lives. A family vacation, anniversary celebration, or the death of a loved one can often rank well above news and information shared online.

Blogging to engage authorities and influencers in the field you are passionate about establishes huge authority over time. Why not be the person who is viewed as a ‘go to’ resource? Aim high.

Create Twitter lists of your clients and potential clients so you can share what they are sharing and engage them personally and professionally.

LinkedIn works for initial connection and initial outreach. But LinkedIn doesn’t generate the warm and fuzzy relationships or thought leadership status. This is ironic in that most professionals feel the most comfortable on LinkedIn.

Rather than look at social media as something that’s a compliment to the things we do to build relationships and influence. Let’s look at social media as the new reality.

People connect and engage with people on social media all of the time. Professionals publish, without gated walls, their insight to blogs all of the time. These blog posts move across social media all of the time.

We’re not going back in time. To nurture relationships and build influence, law firms (and LexBlog) need to have their teams using social media in an effective way and to be prepared to measure the results by the bottom line.

I was sent a copy of David Ogilvy’s “Confessions of an Advertising Man” by a gentleman who through hard work and good judgement co-founded and lead to prominence one of the world’s leading semiconductor companies.

I have taken many lessons from his counseling of me, so I cannot be sure why he sent me Olgivy’s book to read.

I have enjoyed the read though and picked up any number of ideas and lessons from Ogilvy, who took his advertising agency from zero to $55,000,ooo in annual billings in 15 years. Those are in 1963 dollars.

One lesson really resonated. Though you have a very competent team, it’s critical for the leader of the company to make the presentations to prospective clients.

Most agencies send delegations to present their case to prospective clients. The head of the agency limits their participation to introducing a series of subordinates who take turns haranguing the prospect. I have always preferred to make the presentation myself. The final choice of agency is almost always made by the head of the client company, and chairpersons ought by harangued by chairpersons.

I have also found that changes of speaker lead to confusion with other angencies competing for the account. One orchestra looks like every other orchestra, but there is no confusing one conductor for another.

When we were invited to solicit the Sears, Roebuck account I bearded their board of directors by myself. Sophisticated corporations are seldom deceived by a show of bodies. The agencies with the best record in new-business solicitation rely on their leader to put on solo performances. (When you consider the repulsive personalities of many of these soloists, you are forced to conclude that singularity is an important ingredient in winning accounts.)

This is a good kick in the butt for me in a number respects. One, We work with a lot of large clients. New ones contact us regularly. I need to be on and lead any initial phone calls with such prospective clients.

Two, I need to be meeting with and making presentations to prospective clients in person. Following Henry Ford’s advice to dealers that they should “solicit by personal visitation,” Ogilvy started solicited advertisers who did not employ an agency, “figuring he lacked the credentials to knock any incumbent agency out of bed.”

Who knows? Being at this for 10 years, with the firms we have as clients and with the reputation I have built through blogging, I may be able to push an incumbent or two out of bed.

Good lessons for me. Maybe for law firms putting on beauty contests as well.

 Image courtesy of Flickr by Mark’s Postcards from Beloit